Sunday, 11 March 2012

Save Aidan

Towards the end of last year came the disturbing news that Aidan O'Connor, a long-term resident of Kansai, all-round good egg and erstwhile culinary correspondent for Kansai Time Out, was battling with leukemia. Worse, it transpired that his only hope for survival lay with a bone marrow transplant from overseas, an expensive procedure not covered by the terms of his medical insurance in Japan.

The situation was grim and particularly distressing given that Aidan has a young family and had just moved to the countryside and was setting up his own small restaurant. His closest friends in Japan have rallied round and put together a campaign called Save Aidan designed to raise enough money to give some support to Aidan and his family and to help finance the transplants which are his only hope for survival. They also hope to draw attention to the wider problem of there being no bone marrow bank available for non-Japanese in Japan.

You can read more about the moving story of Aidan's battle with cancer and the Save Aidan project here.

Pre-animate in Chinese

The patter of little feet and the putting to bed of a new book has kept me away from blogging for a while but, ah, so much to catch up on...

One noteworthy event in the Flanagan household last year was the publication in Chinese of Pre-animate, that masterwork guide to animation by Karen McCann, the mistress of the house. Rubbing my hands in glee at the prospect of royalties rolling in from a potential market of 1.5 billion readers, I was even more dazzled by the means by which this book came about.

Karen has a friend from her days as a lecturer in computer animation in Hong Kong called Louisa Wei, herself a professor and film producer. (Louisa was already the recipient of my eternal gratitude for once sending me from Shanghai a heavy metal bust of my literary hero, Lu Xun, which now proudly adorns the mantlepiece in my home in England.) But this time round, without any prompting, Louisa took it into her head to get a Chinese version of Pre-animate published and wrote to a publisher in Hong Kong. They politely declined offering some reason about not being sure about how well it would sell or how suitable it would be for a Chinese audience. It's the type of brush-off you get all the time from publishers and if anyone else but Louisa Wei had received this letter, they would have just taken it with a shrug and moved on.

But Louisa Wei is an extraordinary woman. She then wrote back to the publishers, doggedly dismissed their arguments and urged them to reconsider. Amazingly, the publishers then wrote back and said, 'OK, we'll do it!' The next thing you know Louisa, who was heavily pregnant, translated the whole book in her spare time and saw it through to publication just about the same time as her waters were breaking.

When the Chinese edition dropped onto our doormat in England, I marvelled that anyone could be so lucky to have such a one-woman whirlwind acting on their behalf.

Meanwhile, for anyone interested in reading Pre-animate in English, you can find it here.